José Graziano: “Governments must go beyond productivity”

“Governments need to invest in food security programs,” says José Graziano. The former director-general of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) says that governments often focus only on productivity, which excludes ensuring access to water and food. “Provide healthy conditions and productivity will improve,” he says.

He points out that over the past 15 years progress that been made towards universal access to water is slow, and cites the report presented at the last UN General Assembly showing that about 1 billion people lack access to safe drinking water. “We need to rethink our water use awareness approach,” he says.

Among successful programs, Graziano cites “1 million cisterns”, first deployed in northeastern Brazil and then exported to sub-Saharan Africa. The program ensures that water collected in the rain is stored in cisterns and can be used during times of drought. He also mentions another program inspired by the Brazilian experience, the School Meals of the World Food Program, which provides food for school children around the world. But it reinforces that these programs are not enough without the support of public policies.

During the Brazil Africa Forum 2019, which took place in November in the city of São Paulo, José Graziano received a tribute from the Brazil Africa Institute, responsible for the event. He also attended the session “Rethinking Water Use for Improved Prosperity”.